Arts & Culture


FALL BOOKS

By Ilan Stavans

Letters 1928-1946: Isaiah Berlin Edited by Henry Hardy Cambridge University Press, 755 pages, $40. ——-A couple of years ago, while visiting the offices of The Atlantic Monthly, I commented on my admiration of Isaiah Berlin to a friend of mine, Cullen Murphy, the magazine’s executive editor. Few modern thinkers strike me as beingRead More


FALL BOOKS

By Ralph Seliger

A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence Agencies By James Bamford Doubleday, 420 pages, $26.95. * * *This past August, the news broke of an FBI probe into a possible leak to Israel of classified intelligence information via the pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The leak wasRead More


Gleanings

One in a series of occasional excerpts from books that catch our eye. The following is an excerpt from “Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt-Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts,” by Julian Rubinstein (Little, Brown). In it, Rubinstein offers a hilarious account of crimeRead More


FALL BOOKS

By Lev Raphael

Shanda: The Making and Breaking of a Self-Loathing Jew By Neal Karlen Touchstone, 224 pages, $23. ———Self-hatred can be fun — for other people, that is.That’s what Neal Karlen learned in college. He could use his profound Jewish self-loathing as a way of attracting mass quantities of shiksas at parties. WhileRead More


FALL BOOKS

By Esther Schor

Kafka By Nicholas Murray Yale University Press, 440 pages, $30. ——–Kafka may have died childless, but Kafka’s biography is a series of begats, with each generation turning on its elders. In the beginning was Max Brod’s Judaic saint, a rapt visionary; the visionary Kafka begat the ironical Kafka of the absurdists and existentialists;Read More


An Older Mother

By Sandra Steuer Cohen

In this week’s portion, we read of Sarah, who, it is said, gave birth to her first child, Isaac, at age 90. I have often thought of Sarah, who waited endlessly for this miracle of childbirth, during my own childless years — and even more so after I finally did give birth later in life. My fourth and last child was born to me at age 48, afterRead More


What Litvaks Accomplished in Brazil

By Masha Leon

Alzheimer’s disease, an equal opportunity assassin of memory, felled movie star Rita Hayworth in 1987. “In the 1970’s, when Rita began to manifest strange symptoms, people said she was drunk when she’d get off a plane,” Barbara Walters told the 600 black-tie guests at the October 5 Alzheimer’s Association “Beauty Under the Big Top”Read More


The Ancestral Faith, With a Side of Salami

By Boris Fishman

For novelist Gary Shteyngart, whose family fled Soviet antisemitism for the United States in 1979, the problem with American Judaism came down to one thing: salami.“One of my most moving memories from childhood is going to Hebrew school in Queens, where they wouldn’t allow meat products, and sneaking in this pork salami,” Shteyngart saidRead More


Wealth and Strife: Can Rich Relatives Live Together?

By Peretz Rodman

Lot and Abram, nephew and uncle, had migrated together from Mesopotamia to Canaan, and from Canaan down to Egypt. Now they returned together from Egypt to Canaan. Here, after traveling a long and arduous path, side by side, they reached a parting of the ways.Both men, the Torah tells us, had attained wealth. “Abram was heavily laden with cattle,Read More


In New Trend, Adult Emigrés Seek Ritual Circumcision

By Susan Kreimer

Two years before emigrating from Ekaterinburg, Russia, in 1997, Leonid Marder and his wife, Tamara, began observing the Sabbath. After arriving in America, the retired couple gradually became more devout. But for some time, something didn’t feel quite right.Like many Russian émigrés who adopted Orthodox practices in America, Marder had to takeRead More


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